Ethan Staley

Clear Fork's Ethan Staley attempts to clear 15 feet in the pole vault competition during the opening day of the Division II regional meet at Lexington High School. Staley took fourth in the event at the state track and field tournament Friday at Pickerington North's Panther Stadium.

LEXINGTON —  Ethan Staley can finally focus on the pole vault now that baseball season is over.

That’s bad news for the rest of the vaulters around the state.

A junior, Staley broke his own school record with a vault of 14-feet, 8-inches at Thursday’s Lexington regional meet. That effort was good for a runner-up finish and an automatic qualifying berth to next week’s Division II state meet at Pickerington North High School.

The top four finishers in each event qualify for state.

“I’ve been playing baseball this spring and it’s caught up to me on the track,” Staley said. “I’ve had tired legs throughout the season. I’ve been going about 14 (feet) consistently. I broke the record earlier in the year when I went 14-6 at West Holmes and I broke it again today.

“It’s probably the freshest I’ve been all year, leg-wise. “

Staley passed on the first three heights, entering the competition when the bar was raised to 12-4. He cleared it on his first attempt and didn’t have a miss until the bar was raised to 14-8.

By that time, only Staley and eventual regional champ Jimmy Rhoads of Liberty Union remained. Staley cleared 14-8 on his second try, but failed on all three attempts at 15-feet. Rhoads, who didn’t enter the competition until the bar was at 14-4, won the event with a vault of 15-4 before having the bar raised to 16-9. He missed on all three attempts.

“Last week at district, I only jumped 12-6, so I was a little nervous,” Staley said. “I’ve been pacing around since about 10 o’clock this morning.”

Ontario’s Brennan Strickler finished third in the vault, clearing 13-8. He will join Staley at Pickerington North next week.

“I’ve been vaulting against Brennan and Zane (fourth-place finisher Zane Rohrbacher of Sandusky Perkins) all year,” Staley said. “We’re a pretty close group.”

Galion’s Samantha Comer and Shelby’s Kassie Stine both earned state bids in the high jump. Comer finished third with a leap of 5-4, while Stine was fourth with a jump of 5-3.

Shelby’s Connor Henkel punched his ticket to state in the long jump in dramatic fashion. Henkel placed fourth with a leap of 21-2.25. The state qualifying jump came on his sixth and final attempt of the competition and beat fifth-place finisher Landyn Albanese of Highland by just two inches.

The finals in the running events and remaining field events will be Saturday at Lex, beginning at 11 a.m.

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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